» Beat­ing the pres­sure of be­ing a per­fect par­ent Fam­ily Mat­ters

Many new par­ents feel like they’re fail­ing – so GP Dr Pixie Mckenna and mid­wife Vicki Scott ad­vise on how to get it right by trust­ing your in­stincts. LISA SALMON re­ports

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS -

BE­ING a new par­ent can some­times be daunt­ing and over­whelm­ing, and it’s hardly sur­pris­ing that many new mums and dads feel like they’re not get­ting it right, or are even fail­ing at the most im­por­tant job in the world.

In­deed, new re­search sug­gests that nearly two-thirds (62%) of UK par­ents be­lieve they’re fail­ing, and 47% of mums don’t talk openly about their par­ent­ing strug­gles be­cause they’re fright­ened they will be judged by oth­ers.

This sad state of af­fairs is con­firmed by mid­wives and health vis­i­tors, as the Water­wipes re­search found 84% of them think par­ents put too much em­pha­sis on be­ing ‘per­fect par­ents’, and should in­stead trust their in­stincts more.

To help re­lieve some of this par­ent­ing pres­sure, GP and mum of one Dr Pixie Mckenna – who’s writ­ten sev­eral ad­vice guides for new par­ents – and mid­wife Vicki Scott – a breast­feed­ing ad­viser, sleep con­sul­tant, and mum of two – share their ad­vice on how to avoid par­ent­ing pres­sure points.

They also re­veal what mums and dads can do when they’re feel­ing over­whelmed as they try to get it right.

1 RE­MEM­BER PAR­ENT­HOOD DOESN’T COME WITH A MAN­UAL

“PAR­ENT­ING can be daunt­ing, with lots of ups and downs, but it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that par­ent­hood is a learn­ing curve, and ev­ery baby is dif­fer­ent,” says Vicki.

“What might be right for one baby might not nec­es­sar­ily be right for an­other; trust your in­stincts and do what feels best.

“As long as your baby is safe and healthy, you’re do­ing fine.”

2 MAKE NEW FRIENDS

“YOUR usual group of friends may not have chil­dren, or may be at work dur­ing the week leav­ing you feel­ing lonely at times,” says Dr Mckenna, who’s best known for her ad­vice in the Chan­nel 4 med­i­cal se­ries Em­bar­rass­ing Bod­ies.

“Re­search lo­cal post­na­tal classes or mum and baby groups to build up a net­work of new par­ent friends.

“Al­though it can feel daunt­ing to make new friends at this stage in life, re­mem­ber that they’re in the same po­si­tion as you and prob­a­bly feel just as keen to make friends as you do.”

3 TALK ABOUT YOUR FEEL­INGS

“BE­ING a new par­ent can be chal­leng­ing and iso­lat­ing at times, says Dr Mckenna.

“Make sure you speak to your fam­ily and friends and be hon­est about how you’re feel­ing.

“If you feel like you’re re­ally strug­gling, make sure you speak to your health visi­tor, mid­wife or GP, who will be able to pro­vide you with some more tai­lored ad­vice and sup­port.”

4 DON’T COM­PARE YOUR­SELF TO OTHER PAR­ENTS

“EACH per­son will have a dif­fer­ent par­ent­ing style, and ev­ery baby will have dif­fer­ent needs,” says Vicki.

“You’re the only mum or dad your baby knows, and in their eyes no one is bet­ter than you or could do a bet­ter job.

“Don’t stress about what other par­ents in your mum and baby groups are do­ing. You’ve got this!”

5 RE­MEM­BER EV­ERY BABY IS DIF­FER­ENT

VICKI ad­vises: “Let your baby de­velop at their own pace and en­cour­age their achieve­ments.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to mile­stones like wean­ing and crawl­ing, so just re­mem­ber that as long as they’re happy and healthy, you’re do­ing fine.

“Of course, if you do have any se­ri­ous con­cerns about your baby’s de­vel­op­ment, speak to your GP, mid­wife or health visi­tor.”

6 TURN OFF SO­CIAL ME­DIA

“THERE’S a lot of pres­sure for

You’re the only mum or dad your baby knows, and in their eyes no one is bet­ter than you or could do a bet­ter job Mid­wife Vicki Scott

par­ents to look and act per­fect, par­tic­u­larly on so­cial me­dia,” says Dr Mckenna. “But it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that not ev­ery­thing you see on so­cial me­dia is a true re­flec­tion of par­ent­hood.

“Re­mem­ber that you won’t al­ways get it right, but nei­ther will oth­ers.”

7 DON’T STRESS ABOUT THE MESS

DR MCKENNA says: “Dur­ing the first year, a baby is try­ing new food, tak­ing part in messy play and ex­plor­ing.

“It’s cer­tain to cause at least a lit­tle bit of mess!

“This is com­pletely nor­mal and it’s im­por­tant to let them go through this messy phase as they start to learn to feed them­selves.

“Try not to get stressed about your pre­vi­ously tidy and or­gan­ised house look­ing less and less like a show home, and re­mem­ber there’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween dirt and mess.

“In fact, stud­ies found that tod­dlers learn the words for solids faster when they can get messy in a high­chair.

“There’s also psy­cho­log­i­cal ev­i­dence that messi­ness can en­cour­age cre­ativ­ity.”

8 FIND PROD­UCTS YOU CAN TRUST

“THERE are hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent baby prod­ucts out there and lots of ad­vice that doesn’t al­ways make a lot of sense,” says Vicki.

“One way to avoid any added anx­i­ety, is to find a few prod­ucts that you trust and work on your baby.”

Vicki Scott

Dr Pixie Mckenna

Al­most half of mums don’t talk about the strug­gles of be­ing a par­ent Par­ent­hood is a learn­ing curve and as long as the lit­tle one is safe and healthy then you’re do­ing fine

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